Mortgage interest deduction craziness

Let’s face it.  Mortgages are beasts. A mortgage is the largest loan that people are likely to take out in their lifetimes.  They’re also very expensive to acquire.  Most of the closing costs that are paid by the borrower are largely for the benefit of the lender.  The appraisal fee protects the lender’s judgment that the property is worth at least the amount of the contract price.  Title insuranc […]

“Beyond” Frugality

A few days ago, someone made the interesting comment that they’re “beyond frugality” in their personal finance journey. When I asked her what she meant by that, she made several comments along the lines of “focusing more on improving income” and “optimal use of time.” That phrase, “beyond frugality,” stuck in my head for the last few days. […]

Spare Change: Miscellaneous Flotch Edition

When I was in high school, my friend Sparky and I invented a new word: “flotch”. To us, flotch was just miscellaneous baggage, whether or physical or mental. In GRS parlance, it was Stuff. […]

What Would You Do with a Windfall?

In the spring issue of Schwab's On Investing magazine (which I get free), they asked 12,000 of their clients what they would do if they received $25,000 unexpectedly. […]

The Best of Money Carnival

The Best of Money Carnival is now up. Congrats to all participants and especially the winning post, 10 Things You Can Do Today to Spend More Wisely. Enjoy! […]

Durbin Amendment’s First Victims: Debit Reward Programs

The Durbin Amendment, which would limit debit interchange fees on debit cards to a mere 12 cents, is set to take effect soon but large banks are already cutting reward programs in anticipation of the amendment. If you have a reward debit card from a large bank (over $10 billion in assets), then expect to see them kill your reward program. […]

Get Ready for More Food Prices Inflation

One of the trends we saw through the end of 2010 — and one that is continuing in 2011 — is food prices inflation. Food prices have been rising. From floods in Pakistan to drought in Russia to rising demand for food in emerging market countries, it seems as though higher food prices are inevitable. The USDA reports that food prices increased 0.8% in 2010, and that they could rise 3% to 4% in 2011. […]

Charles Schwab Acquiring OptionsXpress

I’m not surprised that smaller trading firms attract the attention of the larger brokerages and banks. ING Direct acquired ShareBuilder (see my ShareBuilder review) in 2007. Today, OptionsXpress (see my OptionsXpress review) has announced that it will be acquired by Charles Schwab for $1 billion. […]

Reader Profile: Steve

I'm starting a new series/category here at Free Money Finance. I'm calling it "Reader Profiles". Each post in this series will detail the financial situation and challenges of an FMF reader. […]

Did You Move in 2010? How to Claim the Moving Expense Tax Deduction

You May be Able to Deduct Your Moving Costs Did you move during 2010 to relocate for work? If so, you may very well qualify for a nice tax deduction on your moving expenses. But don’t get too excited just yet, because there are a few restrictions. Even so, if you’re eligible for the deduction you should certainly seek it out. […]

Reader Mailbag: Baseball Season

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Inheritance concerns 2. Emergency fund size 3. Using Roth as emergency fund 4. Frugal odor elimination 5. Home warranty 6. Estimating child costs 7. Maxing out IRA contributions 8. Board games worth it? 9. […]

Time to Start Paying Back the $7500 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit

Remember back in 2008/2009 when the federal government was trying to stimulate the housing market by handing out an income tax credit to first-time homebuyers? As you may recall, these “credits” came in two flavors. The first was essentially an interest-free loan worth up to $7500 that ultimately had to be paid back – nice credit, huh? […]

Monday’s Money Deals: Electronics, Football Gear, and Free Shampoo

This week in deals: subwoofers, Vans shoes, drills, magazines, and Food Network merchandise. Don't miss out on a free full-sized bottle of shampoo either. […]

How Much is True Love Worth?

Matchmaking is a big business, particularly when the matchmaking services are geared towards the wealthy. With these services, women join for free, and men pay hefty fees to be matched with these women. […]

Should You Chase Bank Promotions?

As the economy recovers and banks are taken off life support, in the good way, financial institutions are becoming more aggressive with their promotional offers. The days of toasters and coffee mugs are long gone. The big banks are offering a Benjamin for new accounts. Sometimes two, if you’re happy jumping through their hoops. What does the prototypical bank promotion look like? […]

10 Safest Cities in America from Natural Disasters

After the recent earthquake in Japan that triggered tsunamis from Japan’s northeastern coast to the northern coast of California, it’s no wonder that people are concerned not only about the safety of the people in Japan, but also about the safety of the area in which they live. […]

Getting The Most From Your Charitable Deductions

This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and raising children at Charitable deductions can be a complex and confusing area of your tax return. Understanding what you can deduct and what you can’t deduct can be confusing. Documenting it properly adds yet another layer of difficulty. […]

Alternatives to Flying: Other Ways to Get From Here to There

With the advent of budget airlines offering unbelievably low airfares and our maniacal desire to get from A to B as quickly as possible, flying is usually the only option we consider when traveling. […]

How to Survive a Tax Audit

Imagine walking up to your mailbox today and finding a letter from the IRS. You filed your taxes nice and early and have eagerly been awaiting your refund check. Could this be it? Nope, it's a notice of an income tax audit. Your eyes bug out. Audit?! […]